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Fantasy baseball is a fabulous and fun hobby for any baseball fan. Being a contender in your league makes the game even more fun. The only way to do this is to manage your team with optimum effectiveness. In order to be a successful manager, you must forget about allegiance to your favorite teams and players. By doing so you will be able to manage your fantasy baseball team much like successful managers and general managers in Major League Baseball.

Your first responsibility as a manager will be to make your draft picks. You will want to be as well informed as possible when choosing the players that will make up your team. The best way to analyze prospects is to refer to baseball preview issues available from periodicals such as Sports Illustrated, The Sporting News and Sport. Other good sources can be found at on the internet sites of CNNSI, ESPN, CBS Sportsline and Fox Sports. These magazines and websites offer a wealth of valuable information and statistics.

When using such resources do not rely too heavily on how the player performed the season before. Take into consideration whether or not players were injured. Often times players will be overlooked in the draft because they are ranked very low. These rankings will sometimes reflect the fact that they spent a good part of the previous season injured. However, be careful not to pick those up who are historically prone to chronic injury. You will want to keep a close eye on these “injured’ players during Spring Training. If they perform well and remain consistently healthy before the season, you may want to consider drafting them.

At the same time be cautious of other players’ performance during Spring Training, as it may not be indicative of how they will perform during the regular season. One must remember that batters are often facing inexperienced pitchers and pitchers are often facing inexperienced batters. Also, many batters and pitchers are using this time to experiment with their perspective batting stances or pitches. There is one important question you must ask yourself when relying on Spring Training performance: “How often has Spring Training play been an accurate gauge to measure regular season performance?”

While Spring Training play does not always suggest regular season performance, remember to be weary of “star” players who are quickly reaching the twilight of their careers. It is true that they will in all likelihood end up being Hall of Fame members, but you need consistent, quality play to be a contender in your fantasy baseball league. You should especially avoid these kind of players if you are in a league where you purchase players and have a salary cap to maintain. “Old” stars demand high salaries that only result in negligible results. This tends to be especially true when it comes to “old” pitchers. On the same note; do not waste money or draft picks on “headliner” players that are newsworthy only because they hit homeruns. While these players are sought after by Major League Baseball general managers who want to sell tickets, they are of little use to you in your quest to attain the maximum amount of fantasy points. These “headliners” generally strike out a lot and are not very reliable fielders; their kind of performance will only result negative fantasy points.

While homerun hitters will end up causing you to lose points, pitchers can often do the same unless you are very careful how you play them. Your pitchers can be your greatest asset or your biggest downfall. When drafting your pitchers take into consideration their ERA and their health. If their ERA is high, but they still have substantial wins, stay away from them. If this is the case, their wins are probably a product of the skill of their offense, rather than their prowess as a pitcher. Look for pitchers with low ERAs who have the wear with all to go the distance. Generally, in fantasy baseball scoring, the more innings they pitch, the more points you will receive. Avoid pictures who are returning from a surgery or an injury. Often times it will take them some time to readjust themselves when coming off an injury. This kind of readjustment will often lose you points. Also, if you participate in a league that gives you an allotted amount of starts for your pitcher then you will end up wasting your starts. This is because pitchers that are coming off an injury usually pitch less innings during their readjustment.

An important variable to consider when deciding whether or not to play a pitcher is the team they are facing and what pitcher they are up against. For instance, if your pitcher, who is 4 and 2 and gives up five runs a game is up against a pitcher who is 6 and 0 and only gives up one run a game, it is a good idea to bench your pitcher. Your pitcher may be good, but there is no reason you should lose points when he is facing an impending loss. Also consider the power hitters your pitchers will face. If your pitcher is going to be pitching against a batter that has hit home runs against him in five of the last six games in which he has faced him, you might want to consider letting your pitcher sit for a game.

Just as you will want to bench your pitchers when they face superior pitchers and hitters, you will want to do the same with your hitters. If one of your hitters is facing a perspective Cy Young award winner who has four shutouts under his belt, you will probably want to bench him. Also, when it comes to hitters, you will have to use your own instincts to decide whether or not to waive them during a batting slump. Everyday that player is in a slump, you are losing points. It’s up to you to decide when enough is enough.

To be a contender in your fantasy baseball league, the keyword is consistency. Once you’ve made a well-informed draft, you must strive to keep your team consistent. There is no room for team or player loyalties. You may say, “I’m only playing for fun.” And to that I must reply, “Well, isn’t it more fun to win?”